It's not that the Heymakers are unworthy. Actually, the Austin-centric quartet of Carl Cooley (a Houston native), Dennis Ku, John Dorn and Rick Broussard has decent chops for an alternative country/ No Depression/traditional country/ whateverthehellyouwannacallit band. And Making Hey certainly has the requisite numbers involving loose wimmin, harsh tequila, open roads and undying fealty to the Lone Star State. But there's just something... well... kind of vapid here, a sense of the generic that doesn't quite displease, but neither does it engage. The Heymakers simply lack an individual stamp, the kind that has marked such similar-minded acts as the Derailers, BR5-49, the Old 97's and the Hollisters.

While the 18 tracks feature, alternately, a catchy melody paired with good harmony ("Uncle Darden"), emotive words ("Some of My Blues"), a righteous romp ("Don't Blame It on Tequila") or some good ol'-fashioned chickin-pickin' gee-tar ("If You're Thinkin'"), there's little that really stands out. You know it's country because it sounds like country -- there's the fiddle and pedal steel guitar -- but it doesn't always feel right. The solo vocal turns of Cooley and Ku aren't notated on their tracks, but they can be summed up as such: One has a voice like Robert Earl Keen, and one doesn't; neither sounds too emotional about the proceedings. Even the two numbers in Spanish just sound grasping.

Are we being too harsh? Maybe. Perhaps with a few more listens we might have found Making Hey a pleasant, if unmemorable, experience. But the overall sound is simply bland in comparison with many other acts vying for y'all's dollars. Call it damning with faint praise. If they're making hay, then it must be full of empty calories, designed for the Wal-Mart crowd instead of the folks at the rural feed store.

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Bob Ruggiero has been writing about music, books, visual arts and entertainment for the Houston Press since 1997, with an emphasis on classic rock. He used to have an incredible and luxurious mullet in college as well. He is the author of the band biography Slippin’ Out of Darkness: The Story of WAR.
Contact: Bob Ruggiero